Pretty difficult to call Orphanage’s Inside a dumb record — “dumb,” as in through its own volition, ignorance, or general ineptitude. More appropriately, then, it’s not unlike viewing a serious deformity (maybe those people on the cover of Cephalic Carnage’s Exploiting Dysfunction?) up close and personal, alive and in the red n’ raw: You implicitly know there’s at least a shred of existence under all that bungled mess, yet despite your sincere intentions — and intestinal fortitude, for that matter — you just have to shield your eyes and feel sorry for the day it was birthed. Yep, Inside is one of those records that should stay inside, if not merely for the sake of the beleaguered neighbors hapless enough to live next door to the offspring of the Elephant Man, consequently watching their real-estate values plummet to the abyss, where said offspring undoubtedly bubbled up from. Clunky and clumsy, but gosh-darnit, really giving it his all, head-grunter George Oosthoek leads his chopsy, well-executed, yet second-, maybe third-tier Wolfheart-era Moonspell wannabes through a slippery slew of gothic/death/doom/whatever-metal caverns, forgetting to bring along the torch and subsequently dragging his buddies down with him, both in his tortured (uh, huh) lyrical vision and his utter lack of restraint, class, or general aptitude when belching forth subzero-IQ lines like “I’ll kick your fucking ass” — “slippery” being the operative word here, really, as in slipping and falling on his (fucking) ass. It’s one (ill-advised) thing to cop someone else’s moves; it’s an entirely (verboten) different thing to do such and trip over your own laces, especially when they’re Velcro. And somehow, erstwhile shoegazing chanteuse Rosan van der Aa got roped into this heavy-metal vomit party (to paraphrase Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club, natch), probably kicking n’ screaming and finally submitting to floating in some Celtic-inspired etherealness from the bolted-shut back room. Granted, this may seem like a rather unsophisticated attempt to analyze a supposedly sophisticated strain of metal, but hey — they made the record, not me.
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